|| After such a dramatic freshening for the 1977 model year,
the 1978 Firebird Trans Am appeared to be mostly carryover. The exterior
lines had the same peaks and valleys, but what 1978 could be remembered
for mostly was horsepower and handling.
Developing horsepower had nearly become a lost art for U.S. carmakers.
Struggling with emissions, fuel economy regulations, and the constant
pressures of the insurance industry, horsepower levels had been on a
downward spiral with seemingly no end in sight. After years of cutting
performance levels, the T/A 6.6 engine of the '77 Trans Am started to
reverse that trend. Horsepower increased on the 400
V8 for the first
time since 1974. Although when looking back at the early seventies, 200
horsepower was pale in comparison, but at least power was heading the
Not only had horsepower returned to be a good word in the American carbuilders
vocabulary, a new word was beginning to be noticed; handling.
No longer were cars being built for the carefree days of cruising down
good enough. We wanted cars with razor sharp reflexes and flat
cornering attitudes. Pontiac was able to meet both those needs
The Trans Am was in it's ninth year of production, the last eight in
the second generation bodystyle. Last year, the most dramatic change
so far had occurred with the addition of the "Batmobile" nose.
For 1978, budgets for major styling changes were used for functional
upgrades, so the two years are similar in appearance, save a couple
First, new grilles were used, replacing the honey comb grille centers
with a cross hatch arrangement. With the exception of the Black & Gold
or Gold Special Editions, these grilles were painted low gloss black
with chrome bezels. A "Pontiac" logo was bolted to the grille
on the left side, replacing the decal that was affixed to the header
on the 1977.
The second change involved the "Trans Am" logos, which became
softer and less angular than those of previous years. On all models
except the Special Editions, chromed Firebird emblems were mounted
on the c-pillar. The SE's received a decal. Around March/April of 1978,
the tail lamp surrounds were painted gloss black, replacing the previous
Exterior color choices flourished for 1978, but there was a major casualty;
Buccaneer Red, a Trans Am mainstay since 1973, was gone. What replaced
it was somewhat of a controversial color- ( I know, I own one) Mayan
Red. Mayan Red (#75) wasn't really red and wasn't really orange - just
somewhere kind of in the middle. In addition, there was still Cameo
White, Platinum, Starlight Black , Martinique Blue, Chesterfield Brown,
and Solar Gold, which also became a new Special Edition color.
Speaking of the Special Editions, the black and gold variety returned,
but now were available only with t-tops. Pontiac coded those SE's built
at the Van Nuys, California plant and the Norwood, Ohio plant differently.
The Norwood cars had a RPO of Y82 and the Californian's, Y84 (This
does not mean that all cars built in Van Nuys were sold in California.).
The components of the SE package were carryover for '78.
After two years of success with the black & gold Special Editions,
Pontiac decided to try a new angle- reverse the colors! Solar Gold
with black accents was chosen to supplement the "bandit".
Most gold SE's were built in Norwood, Ohio, as the Van Nuys, Ca. plant
had to use a different paint due to EPA regulations. The paint from
Van Nuys had a greenish cast to it, versus the more pure gold look
of the Ohio models. -by: www.iwaynet.net